NASA is an independent agency of the Federal Government of the United States responsible for working on the civilian space program as well as aeronautics, and aerospace research on what’s happening outside of our home. For almost half of last century, NASA was mostly working on finding resources on Mars so that the Humanity can sustain itself on the surface of Mars, as the technology got better and better the horizons of research got bigger and bigger.
As a result in 1998 NASA with the help of the space agencies of fifteen other nations including Russia and many European countries. The artificial satellite is orbiting very close to earth and has been the home for 226 astronauts yet. Most of the work that occurs in the space station deals with how our atmosphere is evolving and how the world outside of Earth is shaping. For more on ISS click here. However, NASA is now planning to dismantle ISS due to the lack of funds from its supporters.
NASA’s policy regarding the ISS has been changing slightly since the start of the program, but there were no drastic changes. However, since the start, if Tump’s government many policy elements regarding ISS have changed, last year the acting head of NASA Robert Lighthood hinted on the Plan of abandoning or controlled destruction of ISS is under consideration.
The new plan was given by the head of human spaceflight a week before the interview. He said that they are now considering to make a new spacecraft that will be comparable to the size of a standard school bus, and this “armored space bus” called “Deep space gateway” will circle the astronauts around the moon by 2025, and then a new spacecraft will start its journey through the space in 2033, thus expanding the Horizons of Human space travel and perhaps reaching Venus too.
According to plan, ISS will fall somewhere in the Pacific ocean at sometime 2024. Now to fund the new program NASA had to cut down the costs of its existing projects and ISS being the most cost incurring project will potentially be the one that may take the hit. They said the $3 billion yearly bills of the ISS would cut down to finance the new project. Now let’s see how good or bad is the plan of getting rid of the ISS?
Potential benefits of destroying ISS
ISS is hovering on the orbit that is very close to Earth, and since the drag force has the most effect on this orbit, ISS is coming down ever so slightly with every second, thus there is a possibility that it may de-orbit and fall on the Earth and it can cause destruction on the inhabited area if it is not controlled. Since the space station is fairly big the cost of getting the satellite to a higher orbit will be well over the books. So, they must do something before the slight possibility may not turn into an inevitable reality. So, they may have to destroy it or make it fall on the surface of Earth such that the place of impact is inhabited.
On the other hand, ISS is not designed to work unmanned so, just abandoning it would not solve the problem in hand. Because of its structural flaws and the atmospheric pressure astronauts have to do more work on its construction rather than research which was the primary purpose of getting the international space station. All in all, it is very costly it makes the ISS work and getting ISS to a higher orbit where it will not be affected by anything in space will literally be astronomical.
What can be done if it’s not destroyed?
ISS was the biggest project of the 20th century which had costs of billions of dollars and included almost all developed countries. It even made the arch enemies USA and Russia sit on the same table. The scientists were so much confident of the project that the news that was circling at that time was humanity had started its search for the new home. It had many grandiloquent promises which as the time passed were becoming reasonable due to the intense advancement in the technological sector. It even fulfilled some of the promises, while due to the structural flaws it became invaluable for the scientists.
However, NASA’s veteran Micheal Foale is still hoping that something can be done with the ISS, it has been the epitome of human development for a lot of time, he does not want the ISS to end up in the Pacific ocean. In an interview with BBC, he said, “I’m hoping that commercial space can come up with a business plan that allows part of the ISS to be maintained in space, without sinking it into the Pacific Ocean. You have to come up with innovative ways of keeping it in space.” Only time can tell how good his proposition of dealing with the ISS is.
ISS was and has been one of the greatest achievements of humankind, which has laid foundations for the further, much bigger and cost-effective projects such as the “Deep space gateway.”
However, due to its structural flaws, the costs and no return in any form is forcing the governments to stop financing the project in the future. Micheal Foale’s proposition seems good but it’s too much to ask for a private investor, but it is not the right time to pass judgment on it. According to the current scenario and state of events, it would be rational to make it fall into the ocean so that the funds can be allocated somewhere else.